Harland Williams says Floridians get a bad rap for being weird.
"I love Florida. To me, it's very alive," the comedian says during a recent phone interview. "The wildlife is incredible, the trees, the plants, and everyone is very friendly and nice, even in the supposed redneck territory."
Williams, who has appeared in the films "There's Something About Mary," "Half Baked" and "Dumb and Dumber," will perform this weekend at the Fort Lauderdale Improv. The Sunshine State is a perfect place for Williams to visit, since he considers himself a lover of nature and the outdoors.
He filmed his latest comedy special, "Force of Nature," in the Mojave Desert, without an audience. "I was tired of filming in dark, depressing theaters, so I decided to film it in the desert. We used 30-foot cameras on cranes, and a helicopter to film it."
You can call Williams an animal lover. He even likes creepy-crawling things. At his California home, he keeps a collection of bugs and critters in a large terrarium. "I go out in my yard and look under rocks and logs for lizards and bugs," he says. "Did you know that snails have big, gooey mouths?"
He says he once rescued a gopher that he found drowning in his swimming pool. He built a home for it in the terrarium, after removing the bugs and reptiles. "I would pet him and feed him carrots," Williams recalls. "But one day, I let my friend watch it and he escaped. ... I miss that bucktooth freak."
Williams is also quite fond of hearing from his fans, whom he encourages to leave him voicemails via a phone number on his website, HarlandWilliams.com. He plays the messages he likes on his podcast, "The Harland Highway."
"People have called drunk, stoned, and I think even one guy farted into the phone," he admits.
Most flattering are the marriage proposals. "I've been married 48 times thanks to those voicemails," Williams says.
Harland Williams will perform Thursday through Sunday at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5700 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $22. Go to Ftl.improv.com.